Used by Roman conjurors as far back as 2000 years.
There are some historians that claim the cups and balls date back to the Egyptians. This is all a matter of speculation as there is only a small amount of evidence to this effect and we may never truly know the real origins of the cups and balls unless new evidence is discovered.
The cups and balls performed today consists of three balls and three cups. The magician, with some sleight of hand, makes the balls jump from cup to cup and penetrate them as well.
Over the years magicians have modified the classic cups and balls routine and replaced the cups with things such as bowls or hats.
The famous shell game used by con-artists is a variation of the cups and balls.